Blood on the Moon

Summary: With a new pack in town, Stiles is put in danger and Derek has to find a way to protect him without pushing him away completely. Slow!burn Sterek. Tropes galore.

A/N: Hey guys! I'm late! I know. I really wanted to have this up yesterday but it has been such a hectic week and this chapter wouldn't end. Seriously, it's actually the length of two chapters which meant I could have easily split it up into two chapters... but I promised this chapter would be the last so I decided to keep it altogether.

HUGE thank you to everyone for reading and for the comments this story has received. It has been so much fun writing this and I hope you enjoy this final chapter, otherwise I might just cry. In fact, I might cry anyway because I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself once I click that little button that posts this... Thank you for sticking with me through evil cliffhangers and all the other torments, you guys are awesome!

Rating may change, but currently this is suitable for teens and up...

Warning: Slash!

Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me, I'm just playing around with them.

Chapter 14

It had been years since Derek had fought one on one with a fully shifted Alpha. He still remember it clearly though. He remembered Laura taking her place opposite him as she informed him how important it was to learn these things. The scent of ash and smoke and fire had still been heavy on the air around them, even though Beacon Hills was many miles behind.

He remembered how brutal Laura's claws had been and how much heavier she became when she pinned him the ground and bared her teeth. But most of all, he remembered how she had gone easy on him.

Mae wasn't Laura. She wasn't there to teach him any lessons and she certainly wouldn't go easy on him.

Good¸ he thought to himself, because he wasn't going to go easy on her either.

Nails lengthening, Derek rolled his shoulders and flexed his muscles, readying himself. He felt the wolf take hold, felt the shift of his features and knew his eyes would be glowing that soft and deadly red to match Mae's. But unlike Mae, he didn't allow himself to transform completely. He locked that primal instinct away and instead focused on everything he had learned; from Laura, from Peter, and from every other time he had been forced to fight.

She began to circle him, so Derek mimicked her movements, like he was her reflection in a mirror, following the path around, eyes locked and teeth bared. When she leapt forward, Derek rolled to the side, out of her path, and righted himself with just enough speed to deflect her next attack.

Mae was all teeth and claws, aiming for his throat whilst trying to keep hers protected. It was a violent wrestling match, her muscles even more powerful in wolf form. But Derek wasn't some young, naive Beta anymore. He had his own strengths, and he had a pack, no matter how small it was. That, along with the fact that he needed to win, that fuelled him on. That made him an equal match.

Rising to her hind legs, Mae pushed forward, nail digging into Derek's shoulders as she pinned him against a column. He turned his head away from her snacking jowls and attempted to push her away. But she was determined, and Derek could feel the flecks of her saliva hitting his face, warm and wet.

There was a pained howl off the side, followed by the sound of footsteps racing across concrete. Then Isaac came into Derek's line of sight, his shirt stained with blood and several cuts already healing across his cheek. His eyes glowed golden-yellow and he bared his teeth, nails lengthened and ready to attack. He was done with Mae's last Beta and had come to Derek's aid.

A low growl escaped from Isaac's throat, a warning, and Mae turned her head his way, snarling at him. Derek took advantage of the moment, the brief distraction, and used all his strength to push her forward, to throw her backwards and away from him. She landed on the floor several feet away and skidded on her back until she slammed into the wall.

It gave Derek the time he needed to move to Isaac's side and grip the young Beta's arm enough to redirect his attention toward Allison and the kid she still held at arrow-point in centre of the warehouse.

"I'm fine," Derek said, urging Isaac forward. "Help her get him out of here, then find Scott."

Isaac seemed to think about it for a breath before offering up a begrudging nod. Within a moment, he was moving away toward Allison and the kid, and within the next moment, Derek was being slammed to the floor by Mae.

Her teeth went straight for his neck, her breath rancid and hot. It was only through quick reflexes that Derek managed to roll to the side enough to avoid having his throat ripped out. But as soon as Mae realised she had hit nothing but fresh air, she was adjusting her aim and going in for the kill once more.

Squirming beneath her grip, Derek planted his feet on her chest and pushed up enough to pull himself free. He climbed to his feet immediately, set to put some distance between himself and Mae, enough to give him an advantage. But before he could make it far at all, he was thrown forward by a harsh swipe from Mae that cut deep into his side.

The low barrier around the centre ring stopped his momentum forward, the metal creaking and protesting against the blow it had received. He didn't wait to clamber over it and into the ring, falling onto his front as another swipe from Mae sliced at his thigh. He rolled over though, and onto his back before she could launch herself at him, his hand snaking out to wrap around the metal pole Stiles had dropped earlier.

By the time she dove forward, it was too late for her to stop.

Derek brought the pole up in front of him and it ran her through the chest, stopping her dead. Her eyes widened and she began to shift back to human form, her hands coming up to wrap around the pole as if to try and pull herself free. Derek gave it another shove and twist, and her fingers fell away.

Bringing himself to his feet, he moved forward with the pole until Mae's back was on the ground and she was staring up at him, helpless and unmoving. She coughed once, blood splattering up and out, filling her mouth, and Derek glared down at her.

"What? No final words?" Peter drawled from beside him, appearing now the battle was done.

Derek grunted, but otherwise ignored him, deciding instead to focus his attention on Mae. When he was satisfied that she wasn't going anywhere, he pulled the pole free and threw it behind him, where it clattered against the concrete floor before falling still and silent. That was when Derek lowered himself, claws ready as he stared Mae down.

She knew what was coming. She knew there was no stopping it. And she knew exactly why he was doing it. He didn't need to warn her to stay away from Stiles now, or the rest of his pack, because she wasn't going anywhere.

He raised his hand and brought it down in one swift movement, right through her throat. After another moment of wet gurgling, Mae's eyes fell dead and Derek pushed up once more.

"You could have at least come up with a memorable one liner that she could take to her grave," Peter continued on, and Derek could hear the roll of his eyes.

Derek said nothing, just allowed his gaze to roam the warehouse, looking over Mae's Betas, lying beaten and broken, as dead as Mae. Even the Beta who had bitten Stiles was barely even alive, which for Derek, meant he wasn't dead enough.

Peter placed a hand on his shoulder though, as if sensing his thoughts. "Go. He needs you now. I'll see to all this. Trust me."

And whilst Peter was the last person Derek trusted fully, he was also right. Stiles wasn't out of the woods yet and Derek needed to be there with him.

Thinking straight was pretty much impossible for Stiles at that moment in time. In fact, thinking at all seemed to take too much effort. At that point, Stiles was happy to just let Scott drag him along. All thinking, all questions... well, he would just have to trust Scott because the pain currently trying to tear his body apart? That was taking up most of his attention.

Everything was a blur, and Stiles had decided that closing his eyes and just trying to block it all out was the best option. He was aware they were in a car and that car was moving, and he was aware of Scott talking to him, voice panicked and trying to be calm, soothing. As for what Scott was saying, Stiles didn't have a clue. It washed over him as another wave of pain coursed through him.

As the pain ebbed away once more, he felt a sharp cold spread across his back. The shock of it caused his eyes to shoot open, a too bright light shining down into them, making everything go out of focus. They definitely weren't in the car anymore, and if Stiles didn't know any better, he had been lowered onto a block of ice.

"Hold him still," a familiar voice ordered off to the side.

Strong, firm hands obeyed, gripping hold of Stiles and holding him down. Then there was another pair of hands, warm and tentative, working at his arm, and for a moment, Stiles felt himself relax. It didn't last, a sharp prick of pain digging into his skin.

"What is that?" Scott's voice, cautious and worried.

"Just a little something to help him sleep," the first voice answered, soft and warm, just like the hands. "Shhhh, Stiles. It's okay. Just relax..."

Stiles couldn't find it in himself to argue or fight against it. He couldn't find it in himself to do much more that what the voice suggested. So he let sleep claim him. He allowed the darkness to slip in, and the next time he woke, it was from a dreamless sleep that left him feeling more than a little wrecked, but better... clearer.

"How is he?" A female voice. Allison's voice.

Stiles frowned. Hadn't she been avoiding them lately? But then, if he was right, he remembered seeing her briefly at the warehouse along with everyone else. Then again, he also remembered a strange look in Derek's eyes and the feel of Derek's fingers on his face, so he wasn't too sure about how much of what he remembered was real and how much was not.

"He's strong," Scott answered, the words full of belief and hope, but still tinged with worry, which meant it was time for Stiles to let them know he was awake before either of them started working on a eulogy.

He let out a groan and forced his eyes open, this time prepared for the glare of the lights. But the room was dim, the only lights coming from beyond the doorway several feet ahead of him and a dim lamp somewhere behind. Propping himself up on his elbows, he took in the room and groaned once more. Of all the places to wake up, he should have expected this, and yet the vet's was the last place he expected to be. And lying, shirtless, on a cold metal table? That was just awkward.

"Ah, you're awake." It was Deaton who noticed him first, his voice coming from somewhere behind Stiles.

Allison and Scott swung away from each other to look at him too then, a slow grin spreading across Scott's face and a look of relief falling onto Allison's, her arms folded over her chest as if she was trying to make herself smaller by hugging herself. They moved forward in unison to stand at the bottom of the metal table, and Stiles pretended he didn't feel that strange hallow feeling at the thought that they were the only ones there... that Derek was nowhere to be seen.

But before he could linger on the thought, Deaton grabbed Stiles' attention as he came to stand beside the table, looking Stiles over in a way that said the man knew too much. "You're very lucky, Mr Stilinski."

Given that his head still felt as if it wanted to exploded, and he was pretty sure his body was just one giant bruise, Stiles didn't feel very lucky. His torso was covered in bandages that wrapped around his shoulder, the first few trickles of red staining the white and reminding him of the ache and stingy that existed beneath those bandages. If he was going to get infected with mutant werewolf venom, it could have at least given him a few extra healing properties. But nope. Nothing. At all. Just pain.

"But he'll be okay, right?" Scott questioned, his voice almost pleading.

Deaton let go of a small snort, his lips twitching partially into a smile as he turned away, back to the worktop he had been at before. "He'll be craving red meat for awhile, but he should make a full recovery."

Stiles stared after Deaton, opening and closing his mouth repeatedly until the words finally slipped out. "You're joking, right? That was a joke..."

But Deaton's features were stoic as he tossed a quick look over his shoulder. So Stiles turned to Scott instead, hoping for a better answer only to receive a look of pity.

"Scott? Dude... Buddy, c'mon..."

"At least you're not a werewolf," Scott offered up, shrugging helplessly.

Stiles wasn't impressed.

"Believe me when I say this, Mr Stilinski," Deaton continued, turning back toward him with a needle in his hand, "this could have been much worse. Scott filled me in on everything, and I must say, that whilst reckless, your little wolfsbane trick may very well have saved your life. Your young friend may not be so lucky, though I will try my best to help him."

Stiles could only nod at Deaton's words, barely paying attention to them because the guy was walking toward him with a huge needle in his hand filled with who only knew what. "Yeah... that was..."

But his words died away because Deaton was rounding the table and moving up to Stiles' left side. He reached out for Stiles' arm and that was when Stiles was pulled from his trancelike state of watching the needle. Forced into action, he tugged his arm away and held it close to his chest, eyes wide as he stared at Deaton. "What the hell?"

"Relax, Stiles," Deaton droned, voice low and calm. Stiles imagined it to be the tone he used when dealing with skittish animals. "I'm only trying to help."

"By sticking me with a needle?"

There was a ghost of a smile on Deaton's face again, the man clearly amused by Stiles' reaction. "It's just a little something to help with the pain, that's all."

Still, Stiles was hesitant. For one, huge needles usually meant more pain. For another thing, Stiles had seen pain meds at work. They tended to dull all the senses, and considering Stiles had pretty much just started getting his back, he figured pain was the least of his worries.

Deaton nodded, dropping his hand away. "I understand. Now, if you excuse... it looks like you have another visitor and I have another patient to attend to."

Stiles barely had time to open his mouth and burrow his brow before he heard the ring of the bell from out front, announcing the arrival of someone else, and he wasn't given the chance to ask about the state of the other teen because Deaton was talking once more.

"Just come on through, Derek," Deaton called out, even as he moved away from Stiles and placed the needle on another worktop. "Scott? Allison? Perhaps you could give me a hand with your young friend? I believe Isaac deserves a break from watching over him."

The three of them moved away and toward a door at the back of the room just as Derek made his way in from the main entrance, looking worse for wear. Stiles swung his legs around and off the table almost instantly, eyes locked on Derek and the blood staining his shirt. He pushed off from the table and wavered, dizziness hitting him square on as his legs threatened to give way.

"I'm okay," he answered, before Derek could speak, one hand gripping the table to steady himself. "Just a little woozy."

"You shouldn't be standing," Derek chided, though the words were too gentle to be a true reprimand. If Stiles didn't know any better, he would have said it was just friendly advice.

"I'm fine..." And maybe it wasn't a complete lie.

He looked up to meet Derek's gaze and felt his chest tighten at the look on Derek's face. The vulnerability written there, coupled with the state of the guy's shirt and the still healing cuts Stiles could make out, Derek looked almost human. Almost normal. But most of all, he looked young...

"Derek," Stiles started, before swallowing hard at the lump in his throat. He made to move forward, toward Derek, but the pain in his shoulder brought him to a halt and he found himself gritting his teeth instead.

Then the pain was gone, and Derek's hand was there, fingers tracing Stiles' skin. It took him a moment to realise what was happening, but then he saw it. Derek's face twisted up a little before the guy carefully pulled down the mask once more, and Stiles understood. He vaguely remembered Scott telling him something about taking away pain from the some of the dogs at the vets, but that was with dogs and Stiles had never seen it firsthand.

"You're hurting," Derek pointed out, as if that wasn't already obvious to Stiles and therefore he needed to make Stiles aware of it.

There was a heat rising up through Stiles. He could feel it warming his insides and prickling at his skin. His stomach flipped, nervous and excited, and he wasn't sure exactly why until he noticed just how close he and Derek were. Lydia's words came flooding back to him, and he wanted to deny it. He wanted to deny any form of attraction to Derek freaking Hale, but the guy was standing there in front of him... taking away his pain.

He opened his mouth to say something but closed it again when he realised he didn't have the first clue what it was he wanted to say. 'Thank you for saving me', didn't seem enough and 'I think I'm attracted to you' just seemed like a sure way to get shot down. But Derek was looking at him with those eyes, the same ones Stiles remembered seeing back in the warehouse.

"I should go," Derek began, his gaze dropping away from Stiles and down toward the floor instead, his hand beginning to pull away from Stiles.

Stiles gripped him though, wrapping a hand around Derek's lower arm and keeping him where he was. "You're injured... Deaton should..."

"I'll heal," Derek interrupted, but for the longest breath, he didn't make another attempt to pull away and during that whole time, Stiles couldn't help the way his eyes flickered to Derek's lips before searching his gaze once more.

He swallowed then licked his own lips and that was when Derek did pull away. He was gone before Stiles remembered how to talk, and barely a moment after, Scott emerged from out back, looking more than a little sheepish.

Neither of them said anything at first, silence settling in for a brief breath. Then Scott broke it.

"Stiles..." he breathed out, not quite pity, but not far from it.

It would be useless to lie. Still, it didn't mean Stiles wasn't tempted to do just that. Instead though, he set his jaw and stood up straight, his feet already moving forward.

"Just... give me a moment," he told Scott, and then he was out the door, because hey – he had been kidnapped by wolves and forced to fight for his life. He had been infected with mutated werewolf venom, and had also survived a dose of wolfsbane courtesy of Peter Hale. His best friend was a freaking werewolf, and Stiles was attracted to nutjobs with communication issues... He hadn't given up with Lydia, and he would be damned if he was about to give up so quickly on this latest nutjob.

The breeze hit him as soon as he stepped out of the building and into the cold night air, but he ignored it and pushed onward anyway. His eyes searched the darkness but the shadows were empty and Derek was nowhere to be seen.

"You can't hide from me forever!" Stiles called out, coming to a stop at the edge of the road, gaze still searching. "Pack, remember? Which means it's only a matter of time before you have to face me!"

"What are you doing, Stiles?"

Stiles started, flailing a little at the sound of Derek's voice behind him. Spinning around to face him, he opened his mouth but found he didn't actually have an answer. He had no idea what he was doing. Maybe he was following Lydia's advice, or maybe he was just making a fool of himself.

Derek raised an eyebrow, expectant and waiting.

"You..." Stiles started, before stalling once more, unsure what was supposed to come after that.

Bobbing his head, Derek's face was perfectly unreadable – his mask so carefully put together that Stiles had no idea what the guy was thinking. It made this whole thing even harder. At least when there was anger, Stiles normally found enough of his own to fight back.

"What was that?" Stiles demanded, motioning the vets with his hands. "Back there... what was that?"

Derek's jaw stiffened ever so slightly, but Stiles caught it. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"It's a full moon, buddy – so I know all about how your senses are heightened. My best friend's a werewolf... So don't tell me you didn't notice."

"Notice what, Stiles?" And there was the anger, that slight hint of irritation that Derek always reserved especially for Stiles.

"Me," Stiles answered, "liking you..."

Derek scoffed and shook his head. "You're not attracted to me. You're attracted to the wolf."

"Nope," Stiles answered, strong and persistent. "I'm pretty sure it's you."

"You hate me."

"Most days, yes... and you hate me too, so that makes us even."

Derek let go of a huff of air, looking anywhere but at Stiles. "Whatever it is you're after, it can't happen... You can't... We can't..."

Stiles took a step forward, defiant. "Why not?"

"You could have died tonight, Stiles!" Derek took a step forward too, grabbing Stiles' arm and raising it up for him to see the bandage wrapped around it, covering up the bite mark. "You're not a wolf. You don't heal like we do."

But Stiles was undeterred. "I don't care."

"I do!"

And that was it, right out there like that. It silenced them both, stilled them. Derek's gaze fell, guilty, as if he had been caught saying something he wasn't supposed to... a secret that Stiles was never meant to know. And maybe that was exactly it.

"You care..." Stiles breathed out, almost unsure of the words.

Derek gritted his teeth and rolled his head away, frustration clear. "You don't get it... Everyone I care about... they either die, or they end up betraying me. Either way, they always leave."

Stiles let go of a light snort. "I don't know if you noticed, but I'm kind of like a bad cold. Scott's been trying to shake me off since we were kids... look how much good that's done him."

But Derek wasn't giving in, turning his gaze on Stiles, pleading. "You could die."

"Yeah, I could." Because it was always possibility. In fact, it was a definite. One day, he was going to die and he had no control over that. "But, you know what? This is my life... Full moons, werewolves, hunters, kanimas... I couldn't get out even if I wanted to. Someone's got to watch that idiot's back in there." He motioned toward the vet's as he spoke before bringing his arm back down to his side.

Derek said nothing, his gaze only falling to the floor.

"I'm not asking for your hand in marriage here, Derek... Hell, I don't even know what I'm asking. I just... there's something here. Between us. Just, tell me if I'm right..."

But again, Derek said nothing.

"Or tell me I'm wrong and I'll leave you alone."

At that, Derek hung his head, his silence so deafening that Stiles felt tempted to clamp his hands over his ears to keep himself from hearing it. It was answer enough for Stiles. It said all that needed to be said.

Swallowing hard, Stiles nodded, understanding. "Right... Of course. I should... I should go help Scott."

He righted himself, stepping away from Derek and turning to walk past him. The cold in the air brushed over his skin, biting at it and causing his teeth to chatter, but he ignored it. He ignored how opposite it was to the warmth he had felt rising inside of him when Derek had stood close. And he pushed on.

He barely made it a foot before he felt a hand wrap around his upper arm, stopping him in his tracks. Looking back, he met Derek's gaze, trying to figure out what was written there. Derek's touch was warm and his grip was firm. He looked so unsure, so lost. Nothing at all like the big bad Alpha Stiles was used to seeing, nothing like the mask Derek usually wore.

"Yes..." Derek forced out, the word so quiet that Stiles almost never heard it.

"Yes, what?" For a moment, fear spiked in Stiles' chest, a painful ache settling in. Yes, he was wrong? Yes, Derek wanted Stiles to leave him alone?

But then Derek was pulling him closer, pressing himself into Stiles and wrapping his arms around him, becoming a shield against the cold air, warming Stiles through. Even his breath was hot against Stiles' ear as he spoke. "Yes, there's something there."

When Stiles swallowed this time, it was for a completely different reason. "You're hugging me..." was all he found he could say, his mind blank, too shocked by Derek's closeness to think.

Derek snorted and held on a little tighter. "You're cold."

"I should be cold more often..."

Derek just hummed in response, so Stiles closed his eyes, a flicker of a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

"You know," he murmured, "my lips are cold too... freezing actually. In fact, they've never been mo-"

He didn't expect anything, which was why it took him by surprise when Derek's mouth pressed against his. Gentle, a brief caress before becoming something more... firmer, more sure. Stiles answered it with a sense of desperation, pushing back and working with Derek's lips. A tingle played across his skin, like the sensation of pins and needles, slowly spreading out to race down his back and then further outward still, across the skin over his arms and down to his fingertips until he found himself gripping at Derek's shirt, holding on with everything he had.

All other thoughts disappeared with that kiss, the world fading into the background more and more the longer it continued. Stiles' mind was foggy, everything muddled up, but unlike before, the sensation didn't worry Stiles. It didn't feel unnatural or wrong. If anything, it felt safe. Derek felt safe.

Then they broke away and Stiles was left still feeling a little fuzzy. He had the feeling that if Derek were to release him now, he would drop straight to the ground. But Derek didn't release him. He just rested his forehead against Stiles' and shared his breathing space.

"I don't know what this is," Stiles murmured into the air between them, "but I kind of like it."

"You're an idiot," Derek murmured right back, but there was a tone of fondness there.

"Yeah, and you're the idiot who kissed this idiot." He couldn't help the smile that slipped onto his face, and he could practically hear Derek rolling his eyes.


"Shut up?"

And Stiles could accept that. He could totally accept that, because now Derek had the perfect way to shut him up, so who was Stiles to complain? It gave him a glimmer of light amongst the shadows, something to hold onto, and Stiles needed that. He hadn't known how much he needed it until that moment.

Derek guided Stiles back into the vets when he felt another shiver ripple through the teen. Exhaustion was settling in, he could tell with each sluggish step Stiles took and each yawn that stole away Stiles' words as he tried to insist that he was fine. By the time Derek parked Stiles down on one of the chairs in the waiting room, Stiles' eyes were already beginning to flutter closed, and by the time dawn came around, the kid was gone completely.

Derek listened idly to the others talking and was only half aware of them spilling out into the waiting room and of Deaton picking up the phone and holding a somewhat short conversation with who Derek could assume was the sheriff's department. His attention was too focused on Stiles leaning against him, head on Derek's shoulder and mouth hanging open ever so slightly.

"Well, it's done," Deaton said, placing the phone back down on the hook. "They'll be on their way anytime now, so you should all make yourselves scarce before they appear."

Letting go of a sigh, Derek began to extract his shoulder from beneath Stiles whilst trying not to wake him. It took a moment, but he managed it and lay Stiles down across the chairs as he righted himself, working out the stiffened muscles in his back and neck. When he was done, he looked back to Deaton and studied the man.

"Will he make it?" he asked, speaking to the vet for the first time since Derek had arrived there. He didn't clarify who he meant, but he knew Deaton would know he was talking about the other teen.

"He wasn't as lucky as Stiles, but if he's strong, then yes, I see no reason why not."

Derek bobbed his head in response, slow and cautious as the words sunk in, his gaze moving back to Stiles. He could feel Scott moving to his side, could hear the uncertainty in the young Beta's heartbeat, and Derek knew exactly why.

"I'll take him home," he answered the unasked question, already dipping to take Stiles in his arms.

It was when he reached the doorway that Scott finally spoke up, and Derek turned to look to him. "Derek... take care of him. He needs someone to do that..."

Derek just offered up a brief smile in reply before moving off again.

When he arrived at the Stilinski house, it was just as the Sheriff was opening the front door, half a pancake between his teeth as he pulled on his jacket at the same time. He paused immediately at the sight of Derek, hand moving up slowly to pull the pancake from his mouth.

"What in the blazing hell?" Stilinski questioned once it seemed he was over the initial shock, his eyes flicking back and forth between Derek and Stiles still sleeping in his arms – wrapped up in a blanket from Deaton.

"He's fine," Derek answered immediately. "He just needs to rest..."

Stilinski mulled over the words for a moment and Derek wondered if the man was considering dropping his half eaten pancake in favour of grabbing his gun instead. But he didn't, he just stiffened, jaw tightening as his eyes locked on Derek, determined and unwavering.

"I got a call from the station," he started, slow and careful, in a manner that told Derek the man was piecing things together. "They received an anonymous tip during the early hours about one of the missing teens... then they tell me that our local vet just called telling them he's found the other one. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"

Derek shook his head, forcing his face to remain blank. "No, sir."

Stilinski seemed to consider that for a moment before offering up a curt nod, his eyes letting on that he wasn't fooled for a moment. "Good," he said, terse, "let's keep it that way."

Derek said nothing in reply, just nodded in agreement and waited for Stilinski to continue on, waited for him to ask more about what had happened or demand that Derek hand Stiles over and flee as fast as he could. But the sheriff did neither of those things, he just stared Derek down, his gaze softening only ever so slightly, then finally, he spoke.

"Do we need to talk?" he asked, the warning evident in the tone.

Shaking his head, Derek made sure to keep Stilinski's gaze, refusing to look guilty under the scrutiny. "No, sir."

Stilinski shifted, looking down to Stiles for a long moment before returning his attention to Derek. "If I find out..."

"I would never hurt him," Derek interrupted before the man could continue, conviction in his words.

"Good," Stilinski answered once more before pushing the door open once more and stepping to the side.

Derek took that as an invite to enter and he moved forward, sidestepping the sheriff and crossing over the threshold and into the house. Before he could make it any further though, Stilinski was speaking again.

"I probably won't be home until after lunch, so make sure he eats something..." There was reluctance in the sheriff's eyes and hesitation in the way he went to close the door, but there was something else there too, which under any other circumstances, Derek thought may have been acceptance.

"I will," Derek answered, and after another moment, the sheriff was gone and Derek was moving toward the stairs and beginning the climb up to the second floor.

"I think he likes you," Stiles murmured sleepily against Derek's chest, and Derek looked down to see a small smile on the teen's lips.

"I think he wants to shoot me," Derek offered up with a snort, pushing open the door to Stiles' room before moving in.

"It's the surly face," Stiles retorted, but his words were lost as another yawn took hold.

Derek fought the temptation to roll his eyes, laying Stiles down on his bed and moving to pull the teen's sneakers off. "Shut up and sleep," he ordered.

Sneakers gone, Stiles pulled himself under the covers and pushed himself over to one side of the bed, leaving enough room on the opposite side for another person. Derek eyed it with caution before Stiles forced one eye open and looked to him.

"Even werewolves need sleep, right?" he questioned, eye closing once more, his lip hitching up a little in the corner. "C'mon, dude... I swear I won't bite."

Derek did roll his eyes at that, letting go of a low growl of frustration. But he dropped down onto the bed all the same, and pulled his boots off, letting them land with a thump on the floor. It took him another moment to lay himself down on top of the covers, facing Stiles, wondering the whole while why it didn't feel as uncomfortable as it should have done?

"Go to sleep," Stiles told him without opening his eyes, a knowing but sleepy smile falling into place.

Derek grunted but closed his eyes. "That's my line."

"Mmmhmm," Stiles hummed at him in mock agreement, but he said no more and Derek could already hear the way his heart began to slow, along with his breathing, sleep claiming him.

Opening his eyes briefly, Derek looked over him, taking in the peacefulness on Stiles' face and the contented smile that still tugged at his lips. He drank it in, allowing the peacefulness to spread throughout him too. Maybe it wasn't so bad, letting someone in after all this time... and maybe it wasn't so bad that that someone was Stiles. At least Derek knew, with Stiles there, within his reach, he was safe. No one could take him away if Derek refused to let him go...

Derek just had to make sure to keep holding on tight.

He could do that.

He would do that.

He would hold Stiles close, and maybe along the way, they would figure out just what this was...